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2023 AlmondBeat: #7: Keys For A Successful Post-Harvest Strategy

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

When it comes to almonds, the journey doesn't end with the harvest. Post-harvest irrigation plays a crucial role in sustaining almond orchards and optimizing future yields.

AlmondBeat 2023 #7: The complete guide for post-harvest irrigation

Information Provided by Phytech Agronomy Experts, Ziv Attia, Mark Sherfy and Ido Gardi

Setting the Stage for Next Season

Following harvest, the trees undergo physiological changes in response to environmental cues such as lower temperatures and day length, resulting in bud initiation. This marks the beginning of a critical phase in the almond trees' annual cycle, one that sets the stage for the next growing season. During this time, mitigating stress becomes of paramount importance for the long-term health and productivity of almond orchards. Avoiding stress will promote high growth rate and carbohydrate synthesis and storage which directly impact bud development, dormancy, and flowering in the spring.

The transition from vegetative growth to reproductive growth (bud initiation) requires a substantial energy investment. Stress and defoliation deplete carbohydrate reserves, potentially hindering or delaying bud initiation.

How Post-Harvest Stress Affects Trees' Energy Storage

Stored carbohydrates serve as an energy reserve for the tree and play a pivotal role in various developmental processes during the subsequent year. Stress during the post-harvest period can inhibit the tree's ability to synthesize and store sufficient carbohydrates, leading to inadequate reserves during warm winters and early spring.

Adequate carbohydrate reserves are crucial for almond trees to enter and sustain dormancy during the winter months. During dormancy, metabolic activity slows down, and the tree conserves energy. Carbohydrates stored in the roots and woody tissues provide the necessary sustenance for the tree during this period. Stress-induced carbohydrate depletion can disrupt dormancy and result in erratic bud break in the spring.

As temperatures rise in the spring, almond trees exit dormancy and prepare for flowering. This process demands a substantial energy supply. Carbohydrates stored in the roots and branches are again mobilized to support the development of flowers and new shoots. Inadequate carbohydrate reserves due to stress can lead to reduced flower production and irregular flowering patterns.

Practical Applications

1) Irrigate as soon as possible - Some successful growers are able to sweep the almonds into the row and apply low-pressure irrigation to their orchards. Though this may not seem like much, the trees do not have a heavy crop to maintain so even small amounts of water can mitigate stress and promote growth.

2) Reinstall dendrometers as early as possible after the shake - Putting the dendrometers back on the trees is a short and easy process. Doing it yourself will save valuable time and will allow faster data streaming. Follow the instructions in this short video and reach out to your Customer Success Manager (CSM) with any questions. If you find the process of reinstalling the dendrometers to be cumbersome or complicated, please don't hesitate to contact your CSM and arrange a reinstallation appointment. Our technical team will gladly take care of this for you.

3) Monitor tree stress/growth and adjust accordingly. Avoid over-irrigation - If applying an irrigation set right after harvest does not promote active growth, then another set should be applied within the next day or two to get it back on track. Some growers like to apply large amounts of water right after an irrigation set. While this can be beneficial in some cases, most orchards become waterlogged which lowers oxygen levels in the soil and thus hinders root hydraulic connectivity which limits the amount of water the roots can absorb.

In Phytech's app, as shown in the screenshot below, you will often observe multiple days highlighted in dark green, indicating that the root zone moisture level is nearing saturation, as indicated by the upper blue line. In the long term, all of this can cause stress and can prevent trunk growth.

Consecutive dark green may indicate soil saturation

A Strategic Investment

Post-harvest irrigation is not just a matter of providing water to almond trees; it's a strategic investment in the orchard's future productivity. By mitigating stress and promoting high growth rates during this period (As shown in the screenshot below), growers can ensure that their almond trees are well-prepared for the upcoming growing season, ultimately leading to healthier trees and higher yields. It's a practice that underscores the long-term sustainability and success of almond cultivation.

Promoting high growth during post-harvest

That's it, for this report. Stay tuned for our next AlmondBeat and keep on growing!

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